Commercial General Liability Insurance – How to Get the Right Coverage

Commercial general liability coverage is a complex subject depending on the business to which it applies. Examples would be a small retail store that requires third party liability to cover a slip and fall type exposure only or right up to a large manufacturing firm that requires a wider range of liability coverage to cover its completed products and operations.

Any situation where a person attending at or using a service provided by the business or purchasing a product from the business can claim that the product, service or advise caused them financial or physical injury or harm. A single claim can literally wipe out years of hard work building up a business. Even if you have done absolutely nothing wrong and your product has worked exactly has it was supposed to, the cost of defending an action against your business can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. It only makes sense to make sure that you are protecting the business that you work hard daily to build. Despite this many small businesses are operating without any commercial general liability coverage and many are doing so because they are under the mistaken impression that the cost of the insurance is too high to warrant paying it. Having seen first hand the consequences of not carrying proper coverage I would not recommend that to anyone.

Each business must be assessed as to the exposures that their particular industry presents. Your broker must take into consideration your operations, your product, the source of your materials or products if obtained from a different supplier, where that supplier is located, whether you have alternative suppliers or do you depend on a single outlet, whether you manufacture your product of wholesale it only. Do you repackage the product and sell under your label or do you retail under someone else’s label. Where do you sell your product or service and what is the amount of gross sales in each area. How many employees do you have and do they need to be added as additional named insured. Do you own the building where the business is located or are you a tenant renting the location. Do you offer a warranty on your product or are there warranties offered by the original supplier.

Each individual industry has it’s own inherent liability exposures and your broker must address all of them in order to place the proper coverage. Endorsements such as completed products and operations, limits for equipment, stock and electronic data equipment, boiler and machinery coverage, installation floater, employee benefit liability and non-owned auto liability coverage are but a few of the coverage’s that need to be considered.

Certain industries also need to look at Professional Liability coverage. This is often referred to as Errors and Omissions Insurance. Many service oriented businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons, home inspectors, general insurance brokers and other professional service providers require this type of coverage due to the nature of advise that they render to the clientele.

When you compare premium rates for commercial general liability insurance it is important to make sure that you are comparing the coverage provided by each policy and that the coverage being provided is appropriate for your business.

Yours truly,

Kenneth R Greig CFP. CAIB. RIBO.

Getting Started Selling Products Online Beginners Guide

Like most small businesses your products or store has little or no national brand recognition. So how can you sell products online amongst the millions of other websites? Let this article serve as a guide to start selling your products online. There are an endless supply of tips and tricks to selling products online but the following are ones that I’ve had personal success with.

Professional Web Design

The overall look and feel of your website will have a great affect on people and the confidence to purchase from you. Most people are willing to make online purchases but with Internet fraud on the rise, you need a professional web site to build confidence in your customers. When new customers visit your site they typically won’t research your business before making a purchase, they decide based on how your site looks. See our article on Small Business Professional Web Site Design and Layout Guide for more tips.

Usability

Usability is very closely tied to the design and layout of your website. Website usability is the practice of making your website as easy for customers to use as possible. If you want potential customers to purchase your products, you must make it easy for them to locate your products and find out any information they need to make the purchase. If potential customers can’t locate products, descriptions, and prices quickly, they will go somewhere else. Many experts agree the the best websites allow viewers to navigate directly to products in three clicks.

Once customer is ready to purchase, the checkout process needs to be streamlined. Make the user fill out only what is required to make the sale with little extra. Don’t display page after page of additional products, popups, questions, etc… This will only lead to more people exiting the checkout process prematurely. Once they have made the decision to checkout, don’t give them any reason to change they’re mind.

You must accept credit card payments for online sales. Giving customers multiple checkout choices increase your chances of making a sale but most customers will still want to purchase using they’re credit card. Services like Pay Pal allow users without an account to purchase from your website securely without having an account.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

SEM is typically the process of marketing your website by paying search engines to display your ad when users search for particular terms. These ads are not part of the organic search results; rather they are displayed on the first page, many times above or to the right of the organic search results. This marketing has worked very well for many companies but it does cost money. Most services charge based on the number of times your ad is displayed (impressions) or the number of times your ad is clicked PPC (Pay Per Click). Most large search engines offer this service.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

This is one of my favorite ways to market my websites. Search engines cannot tell you specifically what to do to increase your placement in organic search engine results. If they did, obviously everyone would change they’re websites to rank high in the search results. This would result in sites ranking high that are not relevant to your search. SEO is a science to many people, they study sites that rank high, formulate theories as to why they rank high, test these theories on they’re sites, and study the results. The three important things for small businesses to do from an SEO standpoint are:

1. Key phrases: Research popular key phrases. Find out what key phrases people use when searching for your product. You should define at least 6 key phrases for your products. Many times these key phrases include brand names. For instance, if you sold shoes online, some of your key phrases might be: Buy Shoes Online, Running Shoes, Brand X Shoes, etc…

2. Content: Populate your site with key phrase dense content. Make sure your site has the phrases you’re defined in step one repeated on your website. You can’t just list your key phrases; you must incorporate them into your website elegantly. This can be done by rewriting your product descriptions and writing key phrase dense content. In addition to making sure your key phrases exist in your content, make sure your content is unique. If your content can be found elsewhere on the web, you may be downgraded by the search engines and other sites with the same content may get preference in the results. Making your key phrases relevant and your content unique will increase your position in the results.

3. Links: Getting one way links to your site not only tell the search engines that you exist but can increase they’re trust in your website. The higher ranked site that is linking to you the more trust you will inherit from that site. Getting links from sites, directories, blogs, and social networking sites that have similar content will help build trust with the search engines resulting in a higher position in the search results. Additionally writing and submitting articles and news releases with a link back to your site will build trust with the search engines that your site is an authority on the subject at hand, thus increasing your ranking with them.

There are many other tips, tricks, and rules to SEO and the more you study and tweak your site the better your search engine results will be. Make sure what you do does not have a negative affect on your ranking. Stay away from automated software or services that submit your site, link farms, spamming, sites that are not easily navigated by search engines, sites that use frames, all flash sites, any black hat tricks, etc… Make sure you research anything before trying it.

Products

Many people have found many ways to sell there products online. The following are two techniques that I have found successful

1. Selling large ticket items at cost. This technique is exactly how it sounds. If you can be the low price leader for your product this can generate sales and people linking to you. Obvously you won’t make money selling products at cost, rather when the sale is made you make extra money on accessories or at lease gain a customer. Customers are loyal to websites they have already purchased from, especially if they received good service.

2. Selling unique or customizing your product. This can set you apart from others. You will obviously have the foothold on a unique product and limit your competition if you customize your products. Your task is to build the perception that your unique or customized product is worth the extra cost (if any). Building value in your product will reduce your competition thereby increasing your chance of making a sale.

If you do not produce your own products, try to find as many products to offer as possible, the more the better. This only increases your chance of offering the product a customer may need. Additionally, from an SEO perspective, rewrite all your descriptions replacing abbreviations and using keywords where possible. This will create uniqueness for your products increasing your ranking in the search engine results.

This is truly a beginner’s guide to selling products online but following these guidelines will result in a solid foundation to build on.

Understanding The Basics of Food Product Development

If you are not fully conversant about all the details regarding new food product development, then you are probably wondering what it actually is? Why is it necessary to create new products, as well as why companies feel the need to improve on a product once it has been released to the general public.

So what is product development?

The answer to these questions are actually quite simple, and they relate to the fact that humans need change, and what is good now is not always going to be good in the near future. Basically, every product, be it food related or leisure and clothing related fails to impress the general public after a certain amount of time, and for that reason, a product will need to be either replaced, or spruced up a little.

Market research is crucial

Good companies with years of experience in marketing products to the general public will be fully aware that they will need to develop new products, and they will know exactly what the consumer wants because they would have spent time and money on market research. Food companies in particular are constantly changing or developing new products in line with the forever changing tastes of the consumer. This is for the reason that the tastes of the general public is always changing and food companies always have to develop new products. So new product development has to be completed with due care and with an eye for detail because the continued success of a company largely depends on the company’s ability to produce new, interesting and varied products to the market place.

Difficulties with new product development

The problem with new product development is that it is not always straight forward, and in fact if it is done badly, then it can actually harm the profits and profile of the company, and some of the biggest global companies have got things spectacularly wrong in the past. All this is because they have got the market research wrong or have decided to not actually do any market research and have got complacent with thinking that the general public will but any product that they bring out.

Advertising the new product is crucial for the success of any new product and without a decent advertising campaign no new product is going to be a success and this has the potential to harm the profits of a company in the long term.